Ace Lane seeks extension for Tree Farm in Eagle County

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

Midvalley landowner Ace Lane is asking Eagle County to extend approvals for his residential and commercial project for two years so he can work on the plan and try to advance through the next step of review.

Lane received approval from the county commissioners in September 2009 for 319 residences and 96,375 square feet of commercial space for retail shops, restaurants, services, offices and light industrial uses. His 71-acre property is across Highway 82 from Whole Foods Market. The development is called the Tree Farm.

The initial approval was good for two years. Lane earned an extension in 2011 that expires next month. Lane’s team wrote in its request for a second extension that the economy played a major role in the delay. The local real estate market was slower to respond to the economic recovery experienced in other parts of the country, the application said, but the Roaring Fork Valley market has shown signs of growth over the last year.

“We are confident that the market will continue to strengthen slowly, and allow the Planned Unit Development to be implemented over time, as market demand allows,” wrote Jon Fredericks, Lane’s land use planning consultant.

Total build-out will be over a 10- to 15-year period — longer than initially anticipated — but the project will remain the same.

“The core values of the project remain unchanged,” the extension request said. “The Tree Farm will provide a replicable example of low-impact, compact, energy-efficient and transit-oriented mixed use of development that is in concert with the long-term goals of Eagle County.”

Lane’s team said the application for preliminary plan approval — the second of three necessary reviews — will be submitted before 2013 is over.

The Eagle County planning staff advised the county commissioners to grant the extension request. The board has the ability to grant, deny or table the issue. Planner Scott Hunn wrote in a staff memo that Lane’s team has communicated with the planning staff on the progress and worked to satisfy conditions of the initial approval. For example, Lane collaborated with the developer of Willits Town Center and public entities for the construction of a pedestrian underpass beneath Highway 82. Major bus stops for the public bus system’s expansion have been completed on the Lane property and across the highway by Whole Foods Market.

The commissioners will debate the matter at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Eagle County Courthouse in Eagle.